'Looper' Review By Bryan Yentz

... Spawned from a strange tryst between THE TERMINATOR, TWELVE MONKEYS and TIME CRIMES, LOOPER is a maelstrom of ideas both old and new which converge into a single vision of hand-hammering, limb-severing, telekinetic-smashing madness...
  • Story
  • Acting
  • Directing
  • Visuals
If confronted with the future version of yourself, what would you do? Would you inquire as to what the hereafter held for you? Would you show your elder version off to your friends and family like an aged toy? Would you hope to learn of prospective mistakes you might avoid? The people you might befriend; fall in love with? Chances are that doubt and curiosity would forcefully pull your grey matter in different directions, but more than likely, the last thing on your "Future-Me-To-Do-List" would be to put a bullet in its head. . . Or a blunderbuss in its chest. . .

In the future, time travel is developed as quickly as it's outlawed. Now, the only people in service of it are the mob who utilize such a temporal convenience for assassinations. When they need a meat-bag gone, they warp them back to the year 2044 where a hired "Looper" (there's the title!) kills them with a custom blunderbuss and disposes of the body. In such a bleak future, Joseph-Gordon Levitt plays "Joe", a junkie who regularly visits the brothel and who has little-to-no issue selling out his friends and putting bullets in bodies. . . That is until his newest oblation turns out to be his future self (Bruce Willis). As to avoid informing where the story actually goes, I won't say anymore. . . But put it this way, I didn't even foresee where Mr. Johnson would bend this game of cat and mouse. Yes, that statement is marked by hubris, but oh well. . .

Coming from the brilliant mind of Rian Johnson (the writer/director of the excellent BRICK), LOOPER is nearly everything one could hope for in an adult-themed science-fiction film. It's brutal, clever, thrilling, and most importantly, human. Seemingly spawned from a strange tryst between THE TERMINATOR, TWELVE MONKEYS and TIME CRIMES, LOOPER is a maelstrom of ideas both old and new which converge into a single vision of hand-hammering, limb-severing, telekinetic-smashing madness. As with many a film that deals with the trials and tribulations of time travel, LOOPER is flawed, but its positives far outweigh such minimal negatives and fail to hinder a vision of epic proportions.

I'll be honest, when LOOPER first began making strides with its production diaries and trailers, I found the entire endeavor to reek of unentitled self-worth, Hollywood flash and pretension. That, and the makeup/prosthetic effects on Levitt made him appear as delicate and fake as a porcelain doll. However, sometimes, dear readers, I can be wrong--I know, I know, it's crazy--but some of us--even me--are not perfect and, on occasion, do make mistakes. LOOPER didn't just prove my cynical hypothesis wrong, it went to the future, slapped my future self and he then returned the favor to me. I'm not sure how, but LOOPER succeeded in not only getting an R-rating, but was also allowed the freedom from studio supervision to ACTUALLY have genuine conflict, ballsy material (Willis' "mission", anyone?) and broken characters that don't exactly fit the heroic bill. Really, this flick feels SO un-Hollywood that I find it amazing that half the material wasn't cut and someone as limp as Kristen Stewart plugged into every other scene so as to gain a PG-13 audience. LOOPER lifts itself above the festering pack of mainstream copycats by being exactly what it is: a dark tragedy revolving around tormented people and the evils they cause due to a Machiavellian sense of determination, "The ends justify the means".

As if jumping ahead in time to see what would and wouldn't work in his film, Rian Johnson has committed himself to ensuring that nearly every facet of his creation is finely cut and tuned. From the abrupt screams of a victim being forced back through time to a resounding gunshot ricocheting within the confines of a steel room; The sound design is ear-puncturing perfection. Static shots of golden fields suddenly violated by chunks of fleshy red; energetic camera tricks and maneuvers that follow a flailing body out of a fire escape and depict the bloody repercussions of unbridled fury with restraint and flair. Fantastic and realistic performances are delivered from every actor involved and provide an uncanny amount of depth, sympathy and empathy for each. Due to such ingrained characterization, LOOPER is at once three stories all wrapped in a single, unified whole. This isn't a simple observation of good versus evil; it's a tale in which one can understand, love and detest the actions of each personality, while wanting to see them all succeed at the same time.

I screened LOOPER about two weeks ago, but each successive viewing has lent more appreciation. This isn't a quick cash-in. This isn't a movie of the week. It's not a flick off of the Hollywood conveyor belt. This is a film of true passion, ingenuity and audacity developed by people (namely a director) with an obvious love for the genre. While some issues with time travel and its continuity furrowed my brow (POSSIBLE SPOILERS***specifically one scene half way through that hints at a third time zone which goes unspecified and could be viewed as a convenient plot hole***END SPOILER), I was nonetheless able to suspend my disbelief because of just how damn well everything else came together. Sorry kids, this ain't time-travel by TWILIGHT; sorry Hollywood , it's not a money-grubbing PG-13 expose of stupidity; sorry mainstream moviegoer, because this movie doesn't cater or pander; and a sorry from me, the one who thought it would consist of all of the latter problems. Not since DISTRICT 9 has celluloid of this nature held my attention, fascination and heart as much as LOOPER did. At the end of such a wormhole, it isn't just a great film; it's one of the best science-fiction films of recent memory and deserves to be remembered as such.

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Comments (23)

  1. Bryan Yentz


    Thanks, bud! And definitely let me know what you think of it when you see it. As for the time travel dilemmas; you're very right. Thankfully, it doesn't pose a huge threat to the story in this one as I only counted two instances of "time WTF". These moments don't make much sense if you get down to it, but again, I can overlook them because of how damn well everything else comes together.

    2 years agoby @bryanyentzFlag


    @bryanyentz Cool deal!

    2 years agoby @mcleve02Flag

  3. skywise

    @bryanyentz Fantastic review. I have not seen it yet but somehow I am still pleased that you enjoyed it more than you thought you would because I am hoping this movie will be as good as I hope it is.

    As far as being flawed, there are very very few movies that are not flawed in some way or another but time travel can be REALLy flawed. As long as the rules are set and theys stick by those rules the mechanics of the time traveling are not that important to me.

    2 years agoby @skywiseFlag

  4. Bryan Yentz


    Haha, and brace yourself. . . Just posted!

    2 years agoby @bryanyentzFlag

  5. the MovieGhost

    @bryanyentz No problem dude. Oh man, I'll try and brace myself!

    2 years agoby @the-movieghostFlag

  6. Bryan Yentz


    Will do, man!

    2 years agoby @bryanyentzFlag

  7. Bryan Yentz


    Haha, I know, I've surprised even m'self! Actually, spoiler, my next one will actually be a positive review too. I'll hit you up when I finish it. And thanks for reading, man!

    2 years agoby @bryanyentzFlag

  8. the MovieGhost

    @bryanyentz I'd say @dan1 summed it up; I am shocked! Seriously though, it's always a fun time reading one of your reviews.

    2 years agoby @the-movieghostFlag

  9. Bryan Yentz


    I know, right? I'm still waiting for hell to freeze over.

    2 years agoby @bryanyentzFlag


    @bryanyentz haha please read my review after that comment... I said the same thing in 15 paragraph form!

    2 years agoby @mcleve02Flag

  11. Dan

    @bryanyentz A mainstream movie you actually liked?! :P

    2 years agoby @dan1Flag

  12. Bryan Yentz


    Thanks, man! YEah, it's nice picking up on the little details this one has to offer with repeated viewings. As for DREDD; haha, well, let's just say a review is coming and... I didn't hate it. Haha, I'll tag you when I complete the review.

    2 years agoby @bryanyentzFlag

  13. Corey W.

    @bryanyentz Excellent review man. Glad to see you enjoyed it, even after 3 times. I've seen it twice now and I know I won't stop there.

    What was your take on DREDD? I personally didn't really care for it and I get the idea you probably didn't like it as much as everyone else either. Just wasn't a YENTZ (New term :P) kind of movie, ya know?

    2 years agoby @coreyFlag

  14. Bryan Yentz


    Hahaha, glad I can be an influence. . . Especially because I really didn't like Captain America either. Too cheesy and the effects were terrible at points (like the green-screen treadmill run at the end) took me right out of the film.

    2 years agoby @bryanyentzFlag


    @bryanyentz and strange! You have rubbed off! I just hated all over Captain America! A movie I nerded all over the first time I watched it! forcing me to see reason... haha

    2 years agoby @mcleve02Flag

  16. Bryan Yentz


    Haha, thanks for adjusting my tag! And yeah, liking things feels. . . Good?

    2 years agoby @bryanyentzFlag

  17. Nicholaus XX

    @bryanyentz -- Outstanding review, man!

    2 years agoby @XxNickTheFilmCriticXxFlag


    @bryanyentz I fixed it... haha And definitely man! It's so strange to see you enjoy a movie! XD

    2 years agoby @mcleve02Flag

  19. Bryan Yentz


    Thanks, man! And yeah, I definitely dug it (seen it three times) and I'd like hearing your feedback when you do too. As for this tagging thing, yeah, I just noticed it... Well, f*ck...

    2 years agoby @bryanyentzFlag


    @bryanyentz You have to fix your tag... whatever update movieweb did with them, you can no longer just copy and paste them... I just had to type them all in on my Captain America review and We Were Soldiers review...

    2 years agoby @mcleve02Flag


    @bryanyentz I read up until the spoilers spot, but everything up to there was awesome! I agree, the marketing pulled me right into this film straight from the beginning! If you gave this 4 stars, then I need to get in gear and see this! Awesome review dude!

    2 years agoby @mcleve02Flag